Hollywood is packed with a ton of talented actors. However, nestled within all the actors & actresses with flawless smiles, surgery-enhanced physical features and impossible egos, there are a few who stand out from the pack. We are talking about those talented thespians who really dedicate their entire lives to the craft of acting. For these special ones, each role is not just a paycheck – it’s a chance to really delve head first into a new and exciting character. This piece covers those actors who go all out and physically transform themselves (not via make-up or special effects) – but truly doing whatever it takes to morph themselves into the characters they are portraying.
Ashton Kutcher: Lost 18 pounds for Jobs
For the majority of his career, Ashton Kutcher has been known for his comedic roles and fun projects like That 70’s Show and Punk’d. But last year, Mr. Kutcher decided to put the laughs aside and take on the serious role of playing the part of tech visionary Steve Jobs in the motion picture, Jobs. Steve Jobs passed away from cancer in 2011 at the age of 56, so to really get into the role, Ashton Kutcher adopted a diet of all fruits and vegetables (similar to what Steve Jobs did to fight his cancer). The actor ended up losing about 18 pounds on this extreme diet, but it also adversely affected his health. He had to spend time in the hospital to regain his nutritional balance. The movie itself received a mixed reaction among both critics and viewers and ultimately, the actor deserves praise for attempting to tackle such a character.
Ben Kingsley – Lost 20 pounds
As talented and dedicated actors go, British thespian Ben Kingsley is at the very top of the list. He’s one of the most gifted actors of his generation and movies of his like Sexy Beast, Schindler’s List and House of Sand and Fog forcefully prove that he’s always at the top of his game. However, one of the shining highlights of his career is the biopic role he played as Indian freedom fighter and global pacifist, Gandhi. This movie was released in 1982 to worldwide aplomb. Kingsley fully channeled the spirit of the great man he was playing and he lost 20 pounds to fully mimic the hunger strikes Gandhi imposed on himself as a protest to their British rule. This movie is a true gem and is recommended viewing for al avid movie buffs.
Mila Kunis – Lost 20 pounds for Black Swan
Darren Aronofsky is one of the most intense and gifted directors in Hollywood. His movies are actually the perfect reflection of the passionate auteur that he is. A few of these films include Requiem for a Dream, The Wrestler and most recently, the biblical epic, Noah. One of her most intense films to date was the 2010 film Black Swan which explored the dark underbelly of the ballet world. It starred Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis and both actresses were required to lose weight for the movie. Mila Kunis, an already slender woman lost 20lb for the movie reducing her weight to a mere 95 pounds. She has been reported as saying that her weight loss was quick and drastic, and when she finally got back to her healthy weight, “all the weight that left my chest went to my side hip and my stomach.” The movie did extremely well and earned an Oscar for the movie’s lead actor, Natalie Portman.
Matthew McConaughey – Lost 38 pounds for Dallas Buyers Club
In the most recent airing of the Academy awards, the Oscar for best actor in a drama went to Matthew McConaughey. Even though he was facing some very tough competition, he was still the hands-down favorite to win it. He was nominated for the movie Dallas Buyers Club, and he shed a whopping 38 pounds for the part. In the film, he played a man diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and to make the portrayal as accurate as possible, he took on the challenge of losing the weight.
When asked how he accomplished this stunning feat, he offered that it really wasn’t about intensive cardio or gym activity. Rather he developed a routine of eating less and watching his caloric intake. He has also been quoted as saying that eating “tapioca pudding” was a huge weapon in his weight loss arsenal. Well whatever he did worked, and now he has a shiny Oscar sitting on his living room shelf.
Tom Hanks – Lost and regained 55 Pounds for Cast Away
Tom Hanks is an American actor who deserves all the accolades and praise he gets. At this point, the hit movies he’s starred in are almost too many to count. But two of those starring roles definitely serve the purpose for this piece. One of those was the 1993 movie Philadelphia in which he played a gay man dying from AIDS – the movie also co-starred Denzel Washington. For this movie, he lost 30 pounds to really capture the essence of the role he was playing. He repeated the same feat in 2000 for the movie Cast Away. In this tour de force performance, he played a brave castaway trying to survive on a deserted island and he lost and gained 55 pounds for this role. As a testament to his dedication and effort, he won Oscars for Best Actor for both of the aforementioned roles. Hanks admitted during an interview with David Letterman that he was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a couples years back. The large fluctuations in weight over the years for various film roles may be a contributing factor.
50. Cent – Lost nearly 60 pounds for Things Fall Apart
People may mostly know 50 Cent as the Queens, NYC rapper who rose to fame with the album Get Rich or Die Trying or perhaps through his extremely lucrative Vitamin Water venture. But 50 Cent has also gone on to make some waves in the movie industry as well. One noteworthy film he starred in was the 2010 film, Things Fall Apart in which he played an NFL player who got stricken with cancer.
The role was actually based on a childhood friend of his and 50 was so dedicated to the part that he lost nearly 60 pounds to make his portrayal of the character believable. He reportedly lost the weight by going on a strict liquid diet and staying in the gym 3 hours a day. Fans of 50 Cent’s music can also look out for a new album from him this summer titled Animal Ambition.
Christian Bale – Lost 63 pounds for The Machinist
Mr Bale is another one of the elite actors in Hollywood. If you take a quick glance at the different roles he’s played, a patterns of excellence and dedication quickly appears. Some examples are movies like American Psycho, The Dark Knight-Batman movies, The Fighter and even most recently, American Hustle. However it was his role in the 2004 movie The Machinist in which he really showed how far he was willing to go for a part. In the film, he played an industrial worker who hadn’t slept in a year and as a result was starting to doubt his own sanity.
To really make this character believable, Bale lost a stunning 63 pounds. He mentioned that he was even willing to lose more weight (100 lbs) for the role just to see how far he could push his body limits. Thankfully, his experiment didn’t affect his health, but he proved to the world just how serious he was about his acting.